Free At Last? Tech CEO Apologizes After Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Termination Email

Free At Last? Tech CEO Apologizes After Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Termination Email

It’s not always about what you say, it’s the tone in which you say it.

On Jan. 24, former employees of a tech startup raised an eyebrow after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was quoted in an email saying they would be laid off, CNN reported.

Jennifer Tejada, CEO of PagerDuty, felt an encouraging tone would be fitting after telling her staff she would be cutting 7% of her workforce, saying the company is a “leader.”

“I am reminded in moments like this, of something Martin Luther King said, that ‘the ultimate measure of a leader is not where they stand in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand in times of challenge and controversy,’” she wrote.

Her soon-to-be out-of-work employees were not moved by the words once stated by the civil rights leader.

Tejada immediately apologized for the words used in the email, saying they were “inappropriate and insensitive,” CNN reports.

“I should have been more upfront about the layoffs in the email, more thoughtful about my tone, and more concise,” Tejada wrote. “I am sorry.”

Many employers feel that a layoff email is a faster way of terminating someone, however, The Wall Street Journal reported a number of employees who may have been laid off this way feel the method is “cold and unkind.”

With the backlash, Tejada now knows her communication method wasn’t the best way to go about it.

“The way I communicated layoffs distracted from our number one priority: showing care for the employees we laid off, and demonstrating the grace, respect, and appreciation they and all of you deserve,” the CEO wrote to her staff, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“There are a number of things I would do differently if I could.”

PagerDuty is one of many companies cutting back on staff in the tech world. As the economy slows down, CNN reported several companies, like Amazon, announced they would be letting go of more than 18,000 employees. Microsoft is set to terminate 10,000 staff members.